Cut the number of graduates in half to give our economy the lift it needs - by Roger Bootle

This article for the Telegraph dated 29 August 2021 from such a leading economist as Roger Bootle is very refreshing as he supports the idea that it has been clear for a long time that parents and employers are rating university too highly – many professionals could thrive without degrees as my generation did when only 10% of school leavers went to University even though it was a lot less expensive to do so than now.


Roger Bootle leads his article with these words:


Unsurprisingly, governments are regularly searching for ways to increase productivity and prosperity – and hence tax revenue. But achieving real results is far from easy. Accordingly, they typically focus on all sorts of gimmicky things, often accompanied by intoxicating buzzwords, without much genuine hope of delivering serious benefits. None more so than the current Government. Think HS2; think “levelling up”.


Yet there is an area where government could plausibly make a huge difference to productive potential but where current efforts are nonexistent to fundamentally misguided. I refer to our system of tertiary education. But I am going to shock you. The route to real economic advance from educational reform is probably the exact opposite of what you expect.


For decades now, the mantra has been that we can boost GDP by getting a higher proportion of the population into tertiary education. As evidence in support of this prospect, it has been widely argued that because, on average, people with degrees earn more than people without them, if we equipped more people with degrees then not only would their incomes and living standards rise but GDP would rise as well.


This is one of the most egregious pieces of erroneous economic reasoning that I have ever encountered. Just because graduates on average earn more than non-graduates this in no way means that bedecking more people with degrees will increase their productivity and worth in the labour force.


For the full article in pdf, please click here:

Article for the Telegraph by Roger Bootle - Cut the number of graduates in half to give ou
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Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash


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